Sunday 23rd October 2016

Home » breaking » Currently Reading:

Interview With Cardinal Burke . . . Insights On The State Of The Church In The Aftermath Of The Ordinary Synod On The Family

January 4, 2016 breaking No Comments


Part 1

(Editor’s Note: His Eminence Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke, Patron of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, recently traveled from Rome to the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in La Crosse, Wis., a magnificent place of worship which he founded and dedicated.
(His Eminence graciously granted an extensive interview to The Wanderer during which he shared his insights on a variety of topics, including the recently concluded Ordinary Synod of Bishops on the Family and his recommendations for how we should contend with the uncertainty and confusion that is currently prevalent among the clerical and lay faithful.)

+ + +

Q. Several weeks have passed since the Synod on the Family, and I presume you have now had time to study carefully the final report. In your view, what are the main fruits of the Synod, and how best can the Church take advantage of them?
A. The final report is a complex document and is written in a way in which it is not always easy to understand the exact import of what is being affirmed. For example, three paragraphs (nn. 84-86) suggest that the last session of the Synod found a way whereby people who are in irregular matrimonial unions can still receive the sacraments. To address the lack of clarity in the document, I have written a brief commentary on those paragraphs to clarify what the Church actually teaches.
Since the close of the Synod, Fr. Antonio Spadaro, a Jesuit who was one of the Synod Fathers and on the drafting committee of the Synod, has published an article in which he gives as a central highlight of this Synod something the prior one was unable to accomplish, namely, to open up a way for reception of Holy Communion and Penance by those who are divorced and civilly remarried. In conscience, I felt I had to publish a clarification about what he wrote.
There are many good things in the final report, but there are many other things that I intend to write about, in order to make clear the Church’s teaching. For example, I do not think the statement about parental responsibility for education is adequately stated. It could give the impression that parents are not the first ones who are responsible for the education of their children.
Overall, as made evident in Fr. Spadaro’s article, there is a philosophical presupposition to the reasoning in the document which, first of all, is simply not correct. Secondly, it is very inimical to Catholic teaching. For instance, it is claimed that there are the truths of the Faith and also what are referred to as “the truths of history” (i.e., of the changing times).
We understand that times change, and we face new developments, but we also understand that the substance of things remains the same. There is a truth against which we must measure the changes that we encounter in time. This is not clear in the Synod’s final document, especially if Fr. Spadaro’s article is meant to be a true representation of the thinking of the Synod. If it is, there are some serious clarifications that must be made.
For my own part, I think the best thing would be for the final report to be continued to be studied by true teachers of the Faith. I trust that there will not be any further action taken on the controversial matters treated in the final report, since they touch upon the very foundations of our Catholic Faith.
Fr. Spadaro’s article, for instance, gives the impression that there is some kind of resolution to the situation of persons in an invalid marriage union which would permit them to receive the sacraments apart from what the Church has always understood: the decision, in conscience, to live as brother and sister, if the parties cannot separate, and, then, to receive the sacraments in a place where they will not create scandal because people see that they are living together and know they are bound by a prior union.
To give an impression that there is another solution in the internal forum is false and creates false expectations in people, confusing them with regard to the nature of conscience and the moral truth to which our conscience is always to conform itself.
Obviously, there are good fruits from the Synod such as its emphasis on marriage preparation and its critical importance. For my own part, I would like to have seen more emphasis on the preparation for marriage, both remote and immediate.
I think the fundamental question with regard to the pastoral care of those called to marriage and of families today is catechesis. We have generations of Catholic who do not understand much about their Catholic Faith, and that includes the Church’s teaching on the sacramental nature of marriage and on the family. That teaching should be emphasized above all, beginning with children.
When I was a child being catechized with the Baltimore Catechism, some of the first definitions I learned had to do with the sacrament of marriage. This is not taught anymore. Young people, at the time they are preparing for marriage, should receive an intense catechesis. However, it should be an intensifying of what they already know. Also, we need to educate the faithful in general, many of whom are poorly catechized and are actually being led into confusion about these matters.
Q. The Synod’s final report did offer praise for large families, affirmed openness to life, and encouraged the “rediscovery” of magisterial documents that promote a culture of life (e.g., St. John Paul II’s Familiaris Consortio and Blessed Paul VI’s Humanae Vitae). In a culture in which well more than 50 percent of the laity do not accept the Church’s teaching on contraception (if polls are to be believed), how can this be effectively translated into lived faith at a parish level?
A. Here too, it is a question of catechesis. Documents such as Humanae Vitae and Familiaris Consortio cannot be referenced in just a general way, almost like waving a banner. They must be thoroughly studied in parishes, and priests need to preach about them so as to illustrate the truths that these documents set forth in such a wonderful way.
If we know — as surely we do — that the culture is completely opposed to the teaching contained in these two documents, if we know — as surely we do — that many of the faithful are not well catechized and will tend to go along with what the culture thinks rather than what the Church teaches, then we must realize that it is incumbent upon us to evangelize with regard to marriage and family as if for the first time. In my judgment, that is the sole answer.
An important reason for trying to assist married couples to live the truth of marriage is because little ones learn the fundamental truths about marriage in the home from observing the relationship between their parents.
Children know — even if their parents do not talk about it — when their parents are contracepting; they know if their parents are not fully loving with each other. We need to emphasize, too, the home as the primary locus of evangelization regarding marriage and the family. We need to help those who are striving to live the truth of their marriage commitment to persevere and get stronger. And for those who are having struggles, we must recognize their need for conversion of life and try to lead them to the truth in a loving manner.

Deceptive In A Serious Way

Q. The Synod Fathers, in quoting part of paragraph 84 of Familiaris Consortio, stopped short of including an important sentence: “The Church reaffirms her practice, which is based upon Sacred Scripture, of not admitting to Eucharistic Communion divorced persons who have remarried.” This omission must have been disheartening for you, particularly in view of the recent release of the Italian translation of your book on the Eucharist entitled Divine Love Made Flesh.
In your judgment, why was this teaching omitted from the final report? Does not its omission make it appear as if the Church is opening herself up to changing one of her unchangeable dogmatic teachings?
A. Of course it does; there is no question about it. The final report’s paragraph on this topic is deceptive in a very serious way. It gives the false impression of presenting the teaching of Familiaris Consortio, a teaching which is also illustrated in a document by the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts [to which the final report also refers]. The Synod’s final report suggests that Familiaris Consortio and the Pontifical Council’s document open a way for access to the sacraments by people in irregular matrimonial unions. It is just the opposite.
I was truly disheartened that the final report stopped short of presenting the full teaching of Familiaris Consortio in the matter. First of all, the truth as presented by St. John Paul II in Familiaris Consortio was misrepresented in the Synod’s document as was the truth as illustrated and underlined in the Pontifical Council’s document. That in itself discouraged me very much, especially in consideration of the fact that it was done at the level of a Synod of Bishops.
At the same time, I was also disturbed because I knew this would be used by individuals like Fr. Spadaro and others to say that the Church has changed her teaching in this regard, which, in fact, is simply not true.
I really believe that the whole teaching in Familiaris Consortio should have been addressed through the final document of the Synod. During my experience of the 2014 Extraordinary Synod of Bishops, it was as if Pope John Paul II never existed. If one studies the Synod’s final document, the richness of the magisterial teaching of Familiaris Consortio, which is such a beautiful document, is not there.
This would have been the ideal time to recover it and present it again in all its richness. One gets the strong impression that, even though it was repeatedly claimed that the Synod was not about relaxing the Church’s teaching or discipline regarding the indissolubility of marriage, this was indeed, in the end, what was driving everything.
For Fr. Spadaro, considering all the things contained in the final document, to point to the notion that this Synod accomplished what the other session could not, is very troubling. We have to be honest with one another about this. Something here is not right.

Conscience And Truth

Q. “Inviolability of conscience” was emphasized by some of the Synod Fathers when speaking about controversial topics (e.g., Holy Communion for divorced/civilly remarried couples). However, it seems as if little was said about the necessity of properly forming one’s conscience in objective truth. I vividly recall a moral theology professor under whom I once studied often repeating: “We are culpable for everything we could have and should have known.” Please illuminate readers on the precise teaching of the Church on formation of conscience.
A. It is true that the conscience is, as John Henry Cardinal Newman called it, the “primordial Vicar of Christ.” In other words, it is the voice of God speaking to our heart from the very first moment of creation about what is right and wrong, what is good and evil, what is in accord with His plan for the world and what is not.
Newman goes on to explain that conscience, in order to exercise its critical role, has to be formed in accordance with truth. The conscience is not some kind of subjective faculty where your conscience tells you one thing and my conscience tells me the opposite. It is something that unifies us because both of our consciences, if they are conformed to the truth, are going to tell us the same thing.
Newman went on to say that the Lord instructs our conscience through faith and reason and through His visible representatives on earth (the Popes and the bishops in communion with him, that is, the Magisterium). So it is not a subjective thing at all. We must act according to our conscience, but it can be an infallible guide for us only if it is formed both by reason itself and by the truths of our Faith, which are always in agreement with one another.
A magnificent catechesis on the conscience was given by Pope Benedict XVI in an address to the Roman Curia just before Christmas 2010. Pope Benedict does his catechesis in terms of the teaching of Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman, who is one of the Church’s greatest teachers about conscience. [Cardinal Burke gives a thorough presentation of this address in one of his talks, which The Wanderer will publish in a future issue.]
Q. On a related topic, according to a Catholic News Agency report dated October 16, 2015, a leading prelate was quoted as saying that it is “questionable whether sexual actions can be judged independent of the lived context” and suggested that it is unrealistic for the divorced-and-remarried to refrain from sexual activity (a stance that was strongly rebutted by Francis Cardinal Arinze in an interview with LifeSiteNews as reported in an article on October 21, 2015). Please comment on the role that “lived context” might play in judging objectively sinful actions.
A. The “lived context” is the context in which we live the truth. In other words, we are to follow Christ by doing the Father’s will in every context of life. You cannot judge moral truths on the basis of context — this is what is classically referred to as proportionalism or consequentialism.
This mode of thinking says, for example, that, although it is always wrong to abort, if you are in a situation where you are under a great deal of pressure, it could be permissible in that particular circumstance. That is simply false. We are called to live our Catholic Faith heroically. Even the weakest person receives the grace from Christ to live the truth in love.
We judge the lived context in terms of the truth of Christ. If someone was ignorant of the moral evil involved in a certain action which is objectively gravely evil, it is possible that he or she is not culpable in the sense they have committed a sin (to commit a mortal sin, you must know it is a sinful act and nonetheless freely choose to go ahead).
However, the objective morality of the action is not in any way changed by the lived context. It is the objective truth which calls the “lived context” to a radical transformation.
To say to people who are living together in an irregular union that they are called to live chastely as brother and sister is to say to them that they will be given the grace necessary to live in a chaste manner. That grace comes from the marriage to which they are truly bound. That is precisely what is expected of us.

Share Button

2016 The Wanderer Printing Co.

Live From New York Should a Catholic Vote for Hillary or Trump?

Almighty God has been very good  in giving us as the day’s Gospel passage that of Our Lord’s famous admonition to “render to Caesar what is Caesar’s but to God what is God’s.” I say that in view of the…Continue Reading

Catholic university blasts ‘Unborn Lives Matter’ posters as ‘bigotry,’ bans them on campus

CHICAGO, Illinois, October 18, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – College Republicans at DePaul University were prohibited by the university president from displaying posters on campus advertising their group with the pro-life message, “Unborn Lives Matter.” Vincentian Father Dennis Holtschneider indicated to the…Continue Reading

For Archbishop Chaput, ‘Catholic Spring’ group did untold damage

Philadelphia, Pa., Oct 14, 2016 / 05:53 pm (CNA).- Archbishop Charles J. Chaput did not enjoy his first and only encounter with two leaders of Catholics United. “It was an interesting experience,” Archbishop Chaput recounted in his Oct. 13 column…Continue Reading

The anti-Catholic Catholics (and the bishops who support them)

Yesterday Ross Douthat of the New York Times embarked on a lengthy Tweetstorm —21 tweets in all—questioning whether it’s accurate to refer to the leaked emails from the Clinton campaign as evidence of “anti-Catholic” bigotry. Douthat—who is no friend of…Continue Reading

The next ‘deplorables’? Clinton campaign rips ‘backwards’ Catholic beliefs in leaked e-mails

WASHINGTON, D.C., October 11, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – “Conservative Catholics” are the latest Americans to be smeared by members of Democrat presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s campaign, leaked emails revealed on Tuesday show. Catholic beliefs are bashed as “backwards” and conservative Catholics…Continue Reading

German Bishop’s New Proposal: “There Exists More Than Man and Woman”

The Catholic Church in Germany seems to be becoming more and more unbounded in its proposals. In the recent past, for examples, the official website of the German Bishops’ Conference,, has reported about the idea to have women cardinals; about…Continue Reading

Cardinal Sarah presents counter-vision to Francis as he launches new book

After being reprimanded by Pope Francis over the summer for calling on priests to face east while saying Mass, Cardinal Robert Sarah is refusing to back down and is becoming a rallying point of opposition to this papacy.  The Vatican’s…Continue Reading

Massachusetts’ highest court grants full parental rights to unmarried gay woman

BOSTON – The Mass. court that paved the way for same-sex marriage in the United States ruled Tuesday that an unmarried gay woman whose former girlfriend gave birth to two children through artificial insemination has the same parental rights as…Continue Reading

Shunned for supporting natural marriage, former Mozilla CEO is back with new browser

SAN FRANCISCO, September 28, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) — The former CEO of Mozilla has released a new Internet browser called Brave. Brendan Eich, the creator of JavaScript, continues to lead the technological revolution with Brave, an innovative concept in Internet browsers.…Continue Reading

Lay Catholic Group: Tim Kaine’s Radical Views Stem From Embrace of Liberation Theology

An organization of committed lay Catholics is challenging Democratic vice presidential nominee Tim Kaine, who’s invoking his Catholic faith and the words of Pope Francis as a basis for his radical positions on abortion and marriage, as well as his…Continue Reading

Quebec cardinal won’t refuse funerals for those choosing assisted suicide

Cardinal Gerald Lacroix of Quebec said he has no intention to follow in the steps of his fellow Canadian bishops of Alberta and the Northwest Territories in refusing funerals for those who asked to be euthanized. “I don’t plan specific…Continue Reading

Shocking Report Reveals Scientists Have Created the Word’s First Baby With Three-Parents

A shocking new report claims the world’s first three-parent baby (pictured above) has been born. Children born through ‘three-person IVF’ would contain some genetic material from each of three different people. There are about 50 known mitochondrial diseases (MCDs), which…Continue Reading


Untitled 5 Untitled 2

Attention Readers:

  Welcome to our new website. Readers who are familiar with The Wanderer know we have been providing Catholic news and orthodox commentary for over 145 years in our weekly print edition. Now we are introducing the online daily version of our print journal.

  Our daily version offers only some of what we publish weekly in print. To take advantage of everything The Wanderer publishes, we encourage you to su
bscribe to our flagship weekly print edition, which is mailed every Friday or, if you want to view it in its entirety online, you can subscribe to the E-edition, which is a replica of the print edition.
  Our daily edition includes: a selection of material from recent issues of our print edition, news stories updated daily from renowned news sources, access to archives from The Wanderer from the past 10 years, available at a minimum charge (this will be expanded as time goes on). Also: regularly updated features where we go back in time and highlight various columns and news items covered in The Wanderer over the past 145 years. And: a comments section in which your remarks are encouraged, both good and bad, including suggestions.
  We encourage you to become a daily visitor to our site. If you appreciate our site, tell your friends. As Catholics we must band together to rediscover our faith and share it with the world if we are to effectively counter a society whose moral culture seems to have no boundaries and a government whose rapidly extending reach threatens to extinguish the rights of people of faith to practice their religion (witness the HHS mandate). Now more than ever, vehicles like The Wanderer are needed for clarification and guidance on the issues of the day.

Catholic, conservative, orthodox, and loyal to the Magisterium have been this journal’s hallmarks for five generations. God willing, our message will continue well into this century and beyond.

Joseph Matt
President, The Wanderer Printing Co.

Untitled 1

Enter Comments Below

This Weeks Comments And Letters . . .

Culture Of Life 101 . . . “An Introduction To The Problem Of Euthanasia”

By BRIAN CLOWES Part 2 (Editor’s Note: Brian Clowes has been director of research and training at Human Life International since 1995. For an electronic copy of chapter 23 of The Facts of Life, a 150-page treatise on all of the aspects of euthanasia, e-mail him at + + + We have covered the definitions of the varieties of…Continue Reading

Today . . .

Philadelphia Archbishop Chaput welcomes ‘smaller church’ of holier Catholics

(RNS) In a stark prognosis for contemporary Catholicism, a leader of the conservative wing of the U.S. hierarchy has said that “a smaller, lighter church” of fewer but holier believers is preferable to one that promotes inclusion at the expense of traditional orthodoxy. In a speech delivered Wednesday (Oct. 19) at the University of Notre Dame, Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput also suggested that many prominent Catholics are so weak in their faith that they ought…Continue Reading

Kansas archbishop blasts Kaine: He’s an ‘orthodox’ Democrat but a ‘cafeteria Catholic’


KANSAS CITY, Kansas, October 17, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) — The archbishop of Kansas City, Kansas, has lambasted Democratic vice presidential nominee Sen. Tim Kaine for supporting abortion on demand while simultaneously touting his Catholic faith. Kaine is an “orthodox” Democrat but only a “cafeteria Catholic” who picks and chooses “the teachings of the Catholic Church that are politically convenient,” Archbishop Joseph Naumann wrote in a devastating critique of the Virginia senator. “It was painful to listen…Continue Reading

U.S. Catholics Under Attack

WikiLeaks did it again with another e-mail release, 1,200 of them, and this time exposing the deliberate attempts by the Clinton campaign to disrupt, undermine and, yes, try to destroy the Catholic Church. Their intent was (is) to plant the “seeds of the revolution” within the institution. Among the e-mails are communications between Clinton operatives that are clearly filled with bigotry. If anyone had any doubt that Hillary Clinton and the people around her have…Continue Reading

Fake Catholic Groups and the “Catholic Spring” Emails


It is now impossible to deny that Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good and Catholics United have worked for years to undermine and manipulate Catholic leadership Beginning in 2007, orthodox Catholic writers including myself wrote dozens of articles in an attempt to expose the funding and duplicitousness of two fake Catholic groups: the George Soros-funded Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good and Catholics United. (For example, see here and here and here.) Now,…Continue Reading

Archbishop Chaput’s Weekly Column: About Those Unthinking, Backward Catholics

Back in 2008, in the weeks leading up to the Obama-McCain presidential election, two young men visited me in Denver.  They were from Catholics United, a group describing itself as committed to social justice issues.  They voiced great concern at the manipulative skill of Catholic agents for the Republican Party.  And they hoped my brother bishops and I would resist identifying the Church with single-issue and partisan (read: abortion) politics. It was an interesting experience.…Continue Reading

The March To Totalitarianism

By DONALD DeMARCO Hannah Arendt, best known for her denunciation of totalitarianism in her book, Eichmann in Jerusalem, has made the comment that “the aim of totalitarian education has never been to instill convictions but to destroy the capacity to form any.” Totalitarianism can appeal only to the unthinking masses. A true education, let it…Continue Reading

Culture Of Life 101 . . . “Advance Medical Directives: The Living Will”

By BRIAN CLOWES (Editor’s Note: Brian Clowes has been director of research and training at Human Life International since 1995. For an electronic copy of chapter 23 of The Facts of Life, “Euthanasia,” e-mail him at + + + “Evil committed for a good cause remains evil.” “Even when it succeeds?” “Above all when…Continue Reading

The Joke’s On Us

By DONALD DeMARCO The definitive Jack Benny joke is well known. Originally aired in a March 28, 1948 episode, the legendary comedian is accosted by a mugger and given the option, “Your money or your life!” A long pause follows. The gunman reiterates, “Look, bud! I said your money or your life?” Benny replies, “I’m…Continue Reading

“Pope’s Day” . . … The Lost Tradition Of A November 5 Anti-Catholic Feast Day

By RAY CAVANAUGH In much of colonial America, November 5 was known as Pope’s Day. This was not a day of celebrating the Pontiff, however. In fact, violence would erupt over who got the privilege of burning the Pope’s effigy. Pope’s Day (also known as “Pope’s Night” or just “Pope Day”) was the colonial offshoot…Continue Reading

Restoring The Sacred . . . Words Of Timeless Faith And Truth From An Old Irish Hymnal

By JAMES MONTI Sacred music has been a fundamental component of the Church’s liturgy from Day One, as manifested by the hymn that the apostles sang when our Lord was about to leave the Cenacle for Gethsemane following the Last Supper (Matt. 26:30). Even earlier, music had been a key feature of Jewish worship for…Continue Reading


Our Catholic Faith (Section B of print edition)

Confirmation In The Economy Of Salvation

By DON FIER Part 2 In the introductory paragraph of its section on the Sacrament of Confirmation, the Roman Catechism [RC], promulgated in 1566 by Pope St. Pius V soon after the Council of Trent, are the following words: “If there was ever a time when the Sacrament of Confirmation needed to be explained carefully, that time is now. All…Continue Reading

Catholic Replies

Editor’s Note: J.H.T. of North Carolina, a deacon who has been a witness to the “liturgical wars” of the past half-century, has recommended an “extraordinary book” — Peter Kwasniewski’s Resurgent in the Midst of Crisis: Sacred Liturgy, the Traditional Latin Mass, and Renewal in the Church — that he says should be read by all Catholics, clergy and lay, who…Continue Reading

The Lover Of Souls

By FR. ROBERT ALTIER Thirty-First Sunday In Ordinary Time (YR C) Readings: Wisdom 11:22-12 2 Thess. 1:11-2:2 Luke 19:1-10 In the first reading today, we are given a good perspective on things: Before the Lord, the entire universe is less than a drop of morning dew on the Earth. When we consider one tiny drop of dew in comparison to…Continue Reading

The Clergy’s Silence, Ambiguity, And Dissent Are Destroying The Family

By FR. SHENAN BOQUET (Editor’s Note: Fr. Shenan Boquet is the president of Human Life International, and he travels around the world spreading the Gospel of Life in that role. He is a priest of the Houma-Thibodaux Diocese in Louisiana where he served before joining HLI in August 2011. (Fr. Boquet’s commentary below on the silence of the shepherds first…Continue Reading

A Leaven In The World… We Are All Lepers, Marred By Sin

By FR. KEVIN M. CUSICK In the Rossellini film The Flowers of St. Francis, a series of black and white vignettes drawn from the saint’s life are strung together. In one of these St. Francis encounters a leper. He is repulsed by the man’s wounds, because he is human like the rest of us. Having come to love the Lord…Continue Reading

Blessed Giuseppe Puglisi

By CAROLE BRESLIN When a society is riddled with evil and corruption, the worst thing we can do is to remain quiet. If we truly believe in God, then it is our obligation to do all we can to save the souls in danger of being lost in such a society. The threats and dangers of this world are not…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes… St. Gerard Majella

By CAROLE BRESLIN God works many miracles through the weakest persons so that their lives read like a fairy tale. Old or young, sick or poor, powerful or destitute, all are touched deeply by their encounters with such men of God. Such was the life of St. Gerard Majella, the patron saint of expectant mothers and young children. Domenica, a…Continue Reading